Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Territories of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg within the Ernestine duchies of Thuringia, before 1826
|Status|| State of the Holy Roman Empire,|
State of the Confederation of the Rhine,
State of the German Confederation
|Historical era||Early modern Europe|
• Duchy established
Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (German : Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg) was a duchy ruled by the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin in today's Thuringia, Germany. The extinction of the line in 1825 led to a major re-organisation of the Thuringian states.
In 1640 the sons of the late Ernestine duke John II of Saxe-Weimar divided their paternal heritage (Ernestinische Teilung) whereby Duke Ernest the Pious, a younger son, received the newly established Duchy of Saxe-Gotha. In 1636 Ernest had married Elisabeth Sophie, the only child of Duke John Philip of Saxe-Altenburg. Upon her father's death in 1639, the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg passed to her uncle Duke Frederick William II and her cousin Frederick William III.
The Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg was nominally created in 1672, when Duke Frederick William III of Saxe-Altenburg died at the age of 14 and Ernest the Pious, by his marriage with Elisabeth Sophie, inherited the major part of his possessions. It was common for the Ernestine duchies to merge and split; Ernest's combined duchy was divided again after his death in 1675, and the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg proper came into existence in 1680 with the completion of this division and the accession of his eldest son, Frederick to the subdivision centered on the towns of Gotha and Altenburg.
Frederick had already served as regent in Saxe-Altenburg since 1672 and assumed responsibility for government affairs from his diseased father two years later. His residence remained at Friedenstein Castle in Gotha, he also had the Baroque palace of Friedrichswerth built nearby. Frederick I decisively secured his family's possessions with the implementation of the primogeniture in 1685. His son and successor Duke Frederick II gained further Ernestine territories upon the death of Duke Albert V of Saxe-Coburg in 1699 and Duke Christian of Saxe-Eisenberg in 1707.
Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg remained one of the mightiest Ernestine duchies under the rule of Duke Frederick III from 1732. He had the palaces and gardens in Gotha rebuilt in a lavish Baroque style and supported the religious refugees of the Moravian Church in Neudietendorf. His sister Augusta married Prince Frederick of Wales in 1736, their first-born son George III was crowned King of Great Britain and Ireland in 1760. Frederick made his court a centre of the Enlightenment (Aufklärung), continued by his son and successor Ernest II, who ruled from 1772. At the instigation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, he promoted the painting oeuvre of Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein; he also appointed Franz Xaver von Zach director of the Gotha Observatory established in 1787.
Nevertheless, when the last dukes Emil August, a fervent admirer of the rise of Napoleon, and his brother Frederick IV had both died without male heirs, the house of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg finally became extinct in 1825 and quarrels arose between the three remaining Ernestine lines about the succession. As a result of an arbitration issued by King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony in 1826, the Ernestine duchies were rearranged and Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg was again split:
After the abolition of German monarchies in the course of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, all former duchies became part of the newly created state of Thuringia in 1920.
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, or Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was an Ernestine, Thuringian duchy ruled by a branch of the House of Wettin, consisting of territories in the present-day states of Thuringia and Bavaria in Germany. It lasted from 1826 to 1918. In November 1918, Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was forced to abdicate. In 1920, the northern part of the duchy was merged with six other Thuringian free states to form the state of Thuringia: Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Saxe-Altenburg and Saxe-Meiningen, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, as well as the People's State of Reuss. The southern part of the duchy, as southernmost of the Thuringian states, was the only one which, after a referendum, became part of Bavaria.
Ernest I was the last sovereign duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and, from 1826, the first sovereign duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He was the father of Albert, Prince Consort, who was the husband of Queen Victoria. Ernest fought against Napoleon Bonaparte, and through construction projects and the establishment of a court theatre, he left a strong imprint on his residence town, Coburg.
The House of Wettin is a dynasty of German counts, dukes, prince-electors and kings that once ruled territories in the present-day German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The dynasty is one of the oldest in Europe, and its origins can be traced back to the town of Wettin, Saxony-Anhalt. The Wettins gradually rose to power within the Holy Roman Empire. Members of the family became the rulers of several medieval states, starting with the Saxon Eastern March in 1030. Other states they gained were Meissen in 1089, Thuringia in 1263, and Saxony in 1423. These areas cover large parts of Central Germany as a cultural area of Germany.
Saxe-Altenburg was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin in present-day Thuringia. It was one of the smallest of the German states with an area of 1323 square kilometers and a population of 207,000 (1905) of whom about one fifth resided in the capital, Altenburg. The territory of the duchy consisted of two non-contiguous territories separated by land belonging to the Principality of Reuss. Its economy was based on agriculture, forestry, and small industry. The state had a constitutional monarchical form of government with a parliament composed of thirty members chosen by male taxpayers over 25 years of age.
Saxe-Meiningen was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine line of the Wettin dynasty, located in the southwest of the present-day German state of Thuringia.
Saxe-Coburg was a duchy held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in today's Bavaria, Germany.
Saxe-Gotha was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in the former Landgraviate of Thuringia. The ducal residence was erected at Gotha.
Saalfeld is a town in Germany, capital of the Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district of Thuringia. It is best known internationally as the ancestral seat of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha branch of the Saxon House of Wettin, which was renamed the House of Windsor during their British reign in 1917.
Saxe-Hildburghausen was an Ernestine duchy in the southern side of the present State of Thuringia in Germany. It existed from 1680 to 1826 but its name and borders are currently used by the District of Hildburghausen.
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was one of the Saxon Duchies held by the Ernestine line of the Wettin Dynasty. Established in 1699, the Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield line lasted until the reshuffle of the Ernestine territories that occurred following the extinction of the Saxe-Gotha line in 1825, in which the Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld line received Gotha, but lost Saalfeld to Saxe-Meiningen.
Saxe-Weimar was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in present-day Thuringia. The chief town and capital was Weimar. The Weimar branch was the most genealogically senior extant branch of the House of Wettin.
Saxe-Eisenach was an Ernestine duchy ruled by the Saxon House of Wettin. The state intermittently existed at three different times in the Thuringian region of the Holy Roman Empire. The chief town and capital of all three duchies was Eisenach.
The Ernestine duchies, also known as the Saxon duchies, were a changing number of small states that were largely located in the present-day German state of Thuringia and governed by dukes of the Ernestine line of the House of Wettin.
Frederick I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, was a duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. He was the fourth but eldest surviving son of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Altenburg and Elisabeth Sophie of Saxe-Altenburg.
Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, was a duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg was the reigning Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg from 1772 to 1804. He was the third but second surviving son of Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Meiningen. The death of his older brother Frederick in 1756 made him the heir to the duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
Elisabeth Sophie of Saxe-Altenburg, was a princess of Saxe-Altenburg and, by marriage, duchess of Saxe-Gotha.
Ernest I, called "Ernest the Pious", was a duke of Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Altenburg. The duchies were later merged into Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
Saxe-Römhild was an Ernestine duchy in the southern foothills of the Thuringian Forest. It existed for only 30 years, from 1680 to 1710.